Senior-laden Dakota baseball club eyes MAC Red, district titles

By: Timothy Pontzer | Macomb Township Chronicle | Published April 18, 2017

 Dakota senior third baseman Matt Boutin makes a diving stop April 13 against Troy High. One of four college commits on the roster, Boutin will play at Oakland University next year.

Dakota senior third baseman Matt Boutin makes a diving stop April 13 against Troy High. One of four college commits on the roster, Boutin will play at Oakland University next year.

Photo by Sean Work

MACOMB — Boasting 14 seniors, the Macomb Dakota baseball team brings a wealth of knowledge to the new season.

“The seniors and their experience is our biggest strength,” said coach Matt Carley. “The fact that we have a group of kids that have been with us and know what the expectations are really helps. They know it is bigger than them, and we have great relationships with them. They all like each other and are friends, which always helps. This is just a great group of kids.”

Four juniors round out the roster, building a seasoned group looking to compete in one of the top leagues in the state — the Macomb Area Conference Red Division.

“When we leave practice and games, we talk about understanding that we’re veterans, and that we know what we want and need to do,” Carley said, who is now in his seventh year at the helm. “One of the things that we worked to change in the offseason was that we are going to compete in whatever we do. These seniors were really committed in their training in the offseason, so they’ve come in ready to go.”

Carley also highlighted the mental makeup of his team, proudly boasting that the squad holds a 3.5 cumulative grade point average.

At press time, the Cougars were 2-1, with each contest being of the non-conference variety. With MAC Red play looming, Carley and his staff have used this period to allow each member of the team to earn starting spots.

“We just go into each game, approaching each one wanting to compete,” Carley said. “Different guys will have the opportunity to prove themselves. … We just want to come out every day and make sure that we give ourselves a chance to be successful.”

Four Cougars will play at the next level with Matt Boutin representing Oakland University; Zach Reiss attending Marygrove College; and Jake Guzik and Cam Lenneman heading to Macomb Community College.

Carley specifically pointed out senior outfielder Cade Lawitzke as a leader of the club.

“We have a bunch of leadership out here, all of us have experience and we’re just trying to bring the juniors along too,” Lawitzke said. “We all try our best, and I enjoy being able to lead. We know what we have to do, especially in the MAC Red.”

In addition to placing first in the league, Lawitzke and his fellow soon-to-be graduates are eyeing the program’s first district banner since 2014.

“Our goal is always to finish first,” Lawitzke said. “We see some of the rankings out there, and we’re a bit down, so we just want to go out there and show everyone that we’re legit and can come out on top.”

Lawitzke believes a playoff run is possible, citing the team’s bond and defensive prowess.

“We’re all very close and hang out, always getting to practice early and joking around, but when it is time to work, we get down to it,” Lawitzke said. “Our biggest strength is definitely pitching and fielding. We feel like we have the top pitchers, and along with our fielding, we don’t give up many runs.”

The Cougars host Grosse Pointe South at 4 p.m. April 20 before heading to Macomb L’Anse Creuse North for a doubleheader at 11 a.m. April 22.